Poor Luigi. This man just wants to live a simple and humble life with his pet ghost dog, but it’s like heaven (or hell) has it out for him. In Luigi’s Mansion 3, our plucky younger brother is thrust into the spotlight once more when a third paranormal incident occurs, this time inside a gigantic multi-story ghost hotel. Mario once again, as well as Princess Peach and three Toads are captured, and it’s up to Luigi to keep his wits about and hopefully rescue them.
This hotel might not be a “mansion” in the general sense, but it’s clear that this game is very much in line with the previous two games. I’d even say it takes the best aspects from both of them, although though more from Luigi’s Mansion 2.
Fans of the first game insist that the game is better because of its more exploratory nature, including how everything takes place in the same mansion. Additionally, the first game feels more like a horror game, something the second game arguably turns into an action game with a horror aesthetic thanks to its mission-based structure.
Meanwhile, fans of the sequel insist that the moment-to-moment gameplay of sucking up ghosts feels much better and is more dynamic. Additionally, the different manors mean that the developers are essentially able to provide various themed playgrounds that stop each new area from feeling too samey.
It’s clear that Next Level Games has listened to feedback and upped their ante, because the best aspects of both approaches have been kept thanks to the hotel setting, packaged together in what is likely one of the Nintendo Switch’s best-looking games. Personally, I felt that part of the reason for Luigi’s Mansion 2 losing some horror appeal was because everything was too brightly lit, even when ghosts weren’t defeated. This is rectified with a greatly enhanced lighting engine that keeps to the more gloomy aesthetic of the first game while not getting rid of color entirely, leading to some beautiful yet forlorn scenery shots.
Speaking of the scenery, they are varied in theme and explores different horror situations, such as a haunted hotel, haunted pyramid, haunted shopping mall, and more. This is much more Luigi’s Mansion 2-inspired, and thanks to this, there’s never a dull moment where you aren’t looking at something new. The exploration elements brought into Luigi’s Mansion 2 make a return, such as using the Darklight to reveal hidden objects, as well as gem collection, and this plays into what the first game tried to do, as a lot of backtracking to do in order to collect everything, though only some backtracking is needed in order to complete the main story.
Once again, Luigi’s left to his own pace, barring some help from Professor E. Gadd and needing the elevator button pieces in order to progress higher up the hotel. Boss ghosts return as the second coming of the portrait ghosts, providing some much-needed character into the rather generic lineup in the second game, while each suiting the aesthetic of the floor. It’s essentially an evolution of the first game and how each portrait ghost had their own hobbies and thus their own rooms – except now, each of them own a hotel floor.
But what about the ghost-sucking gameplay? Well, it’s very much focused on being an evolution of what was done in Luigi’s Mansion 2. This time, instead of a strong suction mechanic, Luigi opts to slam the ghosts onto the floor again and again, showing a sort of violence we haven’t seen yet from him. That said, in practice, I found it very gratifying when I take out ghosts in successive chains thanks to this mechanic.
Things like the Darklight, the little air burst that Luigi can do, and each tool in Luigi’s arsenal feels properly represented and utilized in combat, which feels great. It’s also intuitive, as you know for sure that one of these options should work in some way. However, as a result, the upgrade system from Luigi’s Mansion 2 has been removed, with money serving only bragging rights, and buying hints from E.Gadd if you really need to.
Of course, this all just comes down to the fact that I feel Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a culmination of both what was successful before, as well as a second shot by Next Level Games to do what they felt they weren’t able to due to hardware limitations for Luigi’s Mansion 2. While personally I prefer the first game, I don’t think the second game was bad, and certainly not for a lack of ambition. With Luigi’s Mansion 3 taking the best aspects of both games, the game feels much more polished as a result, making for what I think is one of 2019’s best games.
Food for Thought:
- This is completely unrelated to the topic of this playtest, but does Luigi sound a bit weird or off to anyone else? His voice sounds more… stuffy than in previous games.
- I’m very pleased that they kept the ‘calling for Mario’ button in this game as well, although it doesn’t seem like it reacts to how much health you have anymore.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is available on Nintendo Switch.